Donald Trump was widely criticized for his visits to the victims of a pair of recent mass shootings, with critics saying the president treated them more like campaign appearances than a chance to offer healing for a divided nation.
Now, a new report claims that White House staff privately agrees with that criticism.
Speaking on CNN this week, New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman said there is plenty of unease within the White House about the way Trump behaved during visits to El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio on Wednesday. As Talking Points Memo reported, Haberman was asked if the White House thought the visits went well and did not believe so.
“No, they don’t,” Haberman replied. “Most people, while they would, I suspect, not say it publicly, will privately admit that yesterday was something of a debacle, that these were not the headlines they wanted to see.”
“They wanted him to go in and behave differently,” she continued. “The goal was for him to go in and get out while making as little news as possible.”
There have been a string of reports about unrest within the White House about Donald Trump’s inability to stay on script and a penchant for making tragic moments about himself instead of helping others. But the latest incident comes as Trump is under a higher level of scrutiny from a series of racially charged statements, which critics say are feeding into a violent white supremacist movement.
Critics say that Donald Trump ended up making the visits to mass shooting victims all about himself. Not long after meeting with victims, and days after he called for healing, Trump went on the attack. He lashed out at a series of people who had criticized his behavior, including Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. Haberman said that White House staff was hoping Trump would stay focused on the shooting victims, but he ended up watching television all day and couldn’t help but respond to the criticisms he heard.
Fact check: Trump falsely accuses Sherrod Brown, Dayton mayor of misrepresenting his hospital visit - CNNPolitics https://t.co/4vdBPW6ODH— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 7, 2019
As The Daily Beast noted, all of the still-hospitalized victims from the El Paso shooting refused to meet with Trump, some because they did not want to spend time with the president and others because they are focused on staying private in their recovery.
Travel pool was told Trump’s hospital visit was closed to pool because this is “about victims...not a photo op.” But it took the WH just a couple hours to release its own video highlights and photos. https://t.co/rPHYrsrJeP— Eli Stokols (@EliStokols) August 7, 2019
Donald Trump was also criticized for his demeanor during the visits, as he was photographed smiling and posing with hospital staff and victims. As CNN‘s Erin Burnett noted, Trump had said that this visit to victims in Dayton was not a photo op, but the White House then made a campaign-style video that overlaid music with shots of Trump smiling, greeting hospital staff, and being thanked by them.